The last semester of my time at CSU I had the opportunity to do an internship at an educational farm. I loved my time on the farm. Along with teaching young children and their families about farm life, I also got to see animals give birth, milk cows, groom horses, drive a tractor, and a lot more really awesome experiences. One of my favorite things was helping with pony lessons.
On Wednesday afternoons pony lessons take place for children around two to four years old. The class is so cute. Young children with their mom, dad, or grandparent come and learn how to groom, saddle, and ride the ponies. I personally love this time. I get to interact with the ponies and families. I love learning about horse care and then passing on that knowledge to others. (I also can’t wait for Blake to be old enough for this class.)
One week, among the excited parents and zealous children, this one mother stood out to me. She was nervous to enter the pony enclosure. I watched her as she attempted to approach a pony. I immediately offered help. I explained proper horse etiquette and how to approach and saddle the ponies. She informed me many time how nervous she was. She conveyed her fears of what could happen with the pony. I also noticed her daughter. She was not scared, she was not nervous. This child was calm and determined to ride a pony.
One particular lesson, the mother was especially timid. The horse had picked up on her lack of confidence and was using it to his advantage. She was hesitant to do anything in response. I rushed over to help her. Her fear led me to spend the entire lesson with her. As we chatted, I explained how these ponies are very sweet and mellow and there is little to stress about. I picked up on a few things during this lesson. One was that the mother had been around horses before, but has always been nervous around them. Two, she was afraid of the horse kicking, biting, stepping on her. Three, because of the size difference between her and the pony (ponies are still tall), she felt that she could not control him. Four, her daughter loved riding, loved horses, but understood her mother’s fears and was patient with her.
The mother told me that she had also signed her daughter up for the next session of pony lessons. After class, I helped unsaddle and put the horses back in the proper enclosure. I kept thinking why she put herself through it. Here she was, a grown woman, scared of horses and well aware of her fear, yet she brings her daughter to pony lessons. I mulled it over again and again in my head. Then it clicked. I didn’t know why it took me so long to see it; she was doing it for her daughter. This mother was putting aside her own fears and letting her child create great memories that will last a life time.
I was in awe of this mother. She was a pure example of motherhood and selflessness. She put aside her own issues for the benefit of her daughter. This is really what parenthood is all about. Putting off our own interests, desires, needs, and wants for our children. It’s not always easy to do that. I know that it can be difficult to hold back our first response when our children bring home a snake or call us a name that they think is a complement but we find to be repulsive. I know I have my own moments where I struggle to put my own self aside for the benefit of Princess Pea.
I’ve already had to do so much with her. I am not a girly princess kind of girl, but Pea loves to wear dresses, play dress up, and read princess books. She loves everything to be pink (I hated that color for a long time). But rather than push my own issues with girly things on her, I give her all the pink crayons when we color, let her wear whatever dress she picks that day (often it’s the tutu along with a tiara). I hope to continue this trend even if Pea decides that she wants to join clown club or spider studies.
I think this perfect selflessness goes beyond just parenting. It needs to be extended to our entire family, to our neighbors, to the guy that cuts us off while driving. I’m not saying we should go up to that stranger at the store and offer to take them to horse lessons if you’re terrified of horses. We should do something that may be harder. We need to take a breath before we react, then respond with love and kindness.
I know this is something that is really hard for me, especially with Superman. Superman loves to tease and shows affection through jokes, playfulness, and other things. As the youngest child, I am used to responding to these things negatively. It has become a hot button issue for me. He ends up feeling bad for trying to show me affection. If I just stop and take a breath before I react, I spare his feelings and see that his intentions are good. If I stop and take a breath when that lady at church says something borderline offensive, then I can show her compassion and understand that she is coming from a place of hurt. If I can stop and give the benefit of the doubt, if I can stop and think about how my reaction affects their feelings, I can show selfless love.
How have you shown selfless love?